Shaking Hands with Extremists: An Exit Strategy


Bush Policy Called Arrogant and Stupid
One of the reasons we are given for the generals and the overpaid, overindulged and over-empowered policy makers meeting in the White House is that they are discussing changing their “tactics” in Iraq. It leaves one with the impression that we are a flexible force that, like an NFL team at half-time, quickly adjusts to the changing scenarios on the field of combat.

But the truth is, the strategy being talked about by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Casey is political and not military. In fact, the only military aspect is the one that defines the President as Commander-in-Chief. Like his closed door discussions with wavering Republicans earlier this year, this is just the president not too gently reminding the generals and the diplomatic corps to toe the line, that he is “The Decider,” and that they better speak more optimistically about Baghdad’s realities.

What he wants to avoid is waving the white flag of surrender to Democrats, not insurgents. Can you imagine what it must be like around that conference table, especially for U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalizad, when officials at the State Department are being interviewed on Al-Jazeera calling the Bush policy arrogant and stupid? “Undoubtedly,” Alberto Fernandez of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs told the Arabic television network, “there was arrogance and stupidity from the United States in Iraq.” I wonder how loyal this chummy president will be to this latest inside critic.

They are not changing policy. Changing policy to this administration is the equivalent of abandoning victory, or as they so myopically put it, cutting-and-running. The (James A.) Baker Commission, that is due to issue its report after the mid-term election, will advise a policy change. I have some thoughts on an option they may have not considered.

While it’s true that we have “friendly” nations in the area, they are not the problem when it comes to the future of Iraq. The malevolent governments of Iran and Syria are the issue. Iran’s latest call for discourse is specifically geared toward their nuclear enrichment program is something Condi Rice has said in the past is the only issue this administration is willing to discuss with them. When Iran offered to have discussions about Iraq earlier this year, Dr. Rice said that we would only talk to them about their nuclear program. Well, now is the time. (It’s actually almost too late.)

The biggest concern about the civil war in Iraq is, what will happen after we leave? In order to secure a more manageable Middle East, we must enlist the support of Iran and Syria, as well as nations we can usually count on, like Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Not too comfortable a list of names, is it? Well, discomfort aside, these nations are responsible for the future of the region. We must discuss with all of them how they will help secure Iraq for Sunni, Shi’ia and Kurd. We must allow them to rebuild the infrastructure, with our financial help, and the oil program. This war can no longer be for sale to American profiteers. You and I bought it a long time a go on an installment plan. I’d rather pay more with my wallet than with any more of my neighbors’ blood.

We must encourage them, these nations that have a lot more at stake with what goes on in Iraq than we do, to help stabilize the region after we leave. We can no longer wait for the Iraqis to stand up on their own. It ain’t gonna happen, as my mother says. That stool is through the chute. Their neighbors have to move in and assist their fellow Moslems in rebuilding their country. Whether it has to be partitioned or not, I don’t know. I think that will be a stumbling block in the negotiations, but the region must unite to make peace happen. I truly believe that an Islamic federation that is united in principal in Iraq may even lead to support for a secure peace in Israel and Palestine as well.

Only then can we give reason to the so far unreasonable, ill-defined, deadly mission of our troops, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

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